Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Drake, forced out at Midway last year, becomes senior VP of Mid-Continent University in Graves County

By Midway Messenger staff

Former Midway College President William B. “Butch” Drake has found a new job as the senior vice president of Mid-Continent University near Mayfield, Ky.

Drake was president of Midway for 10 years, before being asked to resign after a disastrous venture to build a pharmacy school in Paintsville. The college withdrew application for accreditation twice after warnings that it would not pass. Millions of dollars were spent on the project and only an empty building stood to show for it.

Dr. William "Butch" Drake
Since March 2012, Drake has operated his own consulting firm, Drake, Marcum and Associates, LLC. He said in a Mid-Continent news release that he appreciated the confidence President Robert Imhoff had in him. “I look forward to the challenge of using my experience to help continue the growth and expansion of Mid-Continent University,” he said.

“We are fortunate to have someone of Dr. Drake’s experience and ability,” Imhoff said in making the announcement. “His primary assignment will be to help meet the ever-increasing regulations imposed by the federal government and accrediting agencies.” Imhoff said he was impressed by Drake’s Christian faith, and his accomplishments at Midway, including doubling enrollment, increasing donations and building new facilities.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fall Festival draws thousands to downtown Midway

Story and photos by Morgen Wells
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

Vendors, shoppers, families and performers lined the streets of Midway Saturday and Sunday for Midway’s annual Fall Festival. Crowds gathered to browse what local and out-of-town artists and craftsmen had to offer, from handmade jewelry, scarves and handbags to fresh squeezed honey lemonade.

The family-friendly atmosphere included balloon animals and pony rides for the kids. For adults, Wildside Winery of Versailles had tastings for 25 cents each, or five for a dollar.

Midway’s small-town charm shone through as families pushed strollers, greeted friends and even brought the family dog along to enjoy the festival. Early forecasts showed rain for Saturday, but the skies cleared shortly after noon and remained bright and blue the remainder of the weekend.

Many unique booths enjoyed attention from festival goers, and many potential vendors were turned away due to the high level of interest.

Dru Perry of Lexington set up shop to sell her handcrafted wind sculptures. The sculptures, which hang from clear line and include twisted brass wire and cut glass elements, are one of a kind and have names such as "Surf’s Up" and "Into the Blue." Perry said she started making them in 2000, after her experience with making stained glass windows.

“The emphasis is on light and movement, not as much sound as with wind chimes. They’re very durable; some people leave them out all winter,” Perry said in between sales of her work.

Because she never repeats a design exactly, her work makes a great gift. “They’re guaranteed to not have anything like it!” Perry said.

Daniel Coles, representing Hudson River Inlay of New Windsor, N.Y., manned a booth selling American marquetry woodwork. The booth included intricate tables and mirrors featuring inlaid designs of Koi fish, autumn leaves and other nature designs.

“The studio goes back to ’79, and I’ve been there since the 80’s,” said Cole. “It’s the second year we’ve been here.”

Some booths were set up to raise awareness for local causes. Miss Woodford County Emily Varner, 16, hopes to compete for Miss Kentucky and share her story with others. “I want to do the best that I can in everything I do,” said Varner. “As Miss Woodford County I talk to different people in the community and share my story. I tell them that it’s okay to be in pageants, they’re not stereotypical.”

Varner has been to the Fall Festival before, both for fun and as Miss Teen Woodford County three years ago. “It’s a lot different now that I’m older,” said Varner. “I see more people I know and I can talk to them on a higher level.”

The Woodford County Humane Society had a booth promoting awareness of animals in need of forever homes. Because it is a no-kill shelter, some animals can wait years to find families. This is the organization’s eighth year at the Fall Festival, and their ninth year selling the annual Woodford Humane Society calendar.

“The calendar comes out the Friday before” the festival, said Katie Hoffman, community outreach director for the society. “It’s a limited edition comprised of pets adopted from us. We auction off the front and back pictures and also have owner-submitted pictures.”

The society no longer brings adoptable pets to the festival, but that doesn’t mean the shelter’s presence goes unnoticed. Hoffman said, “We’ll have people come out to adopt and say ‘Hey, we saw you out there!’”

There were lots of people to see and be seen at the festival. Restaurateur Grayson Vandegrift, the festival chairman and a city council member, was pleased with the turnout. “I’d say between 10 and 12 thousand people came out,” he said. “Last year was a record, and we didn’t quite get there this year, but there was a huge turnout today. Usually Sunday is slower, but Sunday was busier today.”

“This year was harder to put together with more challenging logistics,” Vandegrift said. “We had more vendors than ever.” More than 70 vendors were turned away this year because of lack of space, he said.

Vandegrift said the only complaint he heard was that the festival didn’t last longer. “A lot of people want the hours extended. That’s the main thing I heard from them.”

The festival, which was dedicated to the late railroad baron R.J. Corman, had the Old Smokey steam locomotive on display. The presence of the train was appropriate considering the impact the railroad had on Midway’s development. The town was founded as a place to lodge railroad workers, and expanded with industrialization.

The Midway Fall Festival showcased a variety of different vendors, food, organizations and artwork, proving that small-town charm doesn’t mean limited possibilities.

Francisco's Farm Art Festival will return to Midway College and also move its date, to mid-May

Sara Hicks signs contract for Midway
Renaissance as John Marsden looks on
Francisco's Farm Art Festival will return to the campus of Midway College in 2014. The festival was started in 2003 by Midway Renaissance on the Midway College campus grounds, where it was held until 2010. For the past three years the Festival has been hosted by Equus Run at its vineyard off Moores Mill Road, more than three miles from downtown Midway, displeasing some local business interests.

The festival will move to mid-May from its recent schedule of late or mid-June. Organizers hope that will help reduce heat, which has been a limiting factor the last few years in June.

“Midway Renaissance is looking forward to once again engaging the many Midway and Woodford County volunteers and supporters of the Francisco’s Farm Art Festival to stage one of the region’s recognized top arts festivals,” said Sara Hicks of Midway Renaissance, who also serves on the Midway City Council. “Our committee has already begun discussing the ‘new improved’ Festival and how we will infuse new ideas to unveil at the 2014 Festival.”

Dr. John Marsden, president of Midway College, said "The college is enthusiastic about welcoming the festival back to our campus. Our beautiful, historic campus is ideal for this type of event. I am supportive of the connection between Midway College and the City of Midway and believe the return of the festival is one way to strengthen that relationship."

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Vendors flocked to sign up for Midway Fall Festival despite early, rainy weather outlook, now improving

The weather forecast isn't the best, but the interest seems greater than ever in the Midway Fall Festival.

The festival will be held Saturday, when rain is expected at least in the morning, and Sunday, when sunny, cooler weather is forecast. The earlier forecasts were even more unfavorable, but space requests from vendors "have been overflowing," Kenny Smith, president of the Midway Merchants Association, said today. "I've been turning people away."

The surge in vendors probably stems from last year's larger-than-usual crowd, estimated at 12,000. (Photo by Ariel Waldeck) The festival hours are Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Smith said the 39th annual festival will offer the same fare as in recent years, except for entertainers, which vary from year to year. The music will begin with the Midway Children's Choir in the music tent near Darlin' Jean's Apple Cobbler Cafe at 10 a.m. Saturday. A free concert from The Meadowlarks will be held in Graves Amphitheater at Midway College at 6:30 p.m.

Children will enjoy train, wagon and pony rides, inflated playgrounds and bubble houses, and adults will shop the vendors, shops, yard sales and church rummage sales. The Old Smoky steam engine from R.J. Corman Railroad Co. will again be on hand, but its visit will be bittersweet because Rick Corman, owner of the company, died recently. the festival is being dedicated to him. The company will post an informational placard about him. (Photo by Dick Yarmy)

For a complete list of entertainers, vendors, crafts, activities and more information, check the Fall Festival website.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Midway College terminating about 12 faculty, after releasing 16 staffers; city budget will be squeezed

After suffering an 18 percent decline in enrollment from last year, Midway College is terminating about a dozen faculty members' contracts and suspending contributions to faculty retirement accounts in order to balance its budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The college released 16 staff members this summer. The moves will squeeze Midway's city budget; the college is the town's largest employer and taxpayer. The exact effect is uncertain because individual tax payments are confidential by law.

The enrollment plunge "greatly impacted our bottom line," said Dr. John Marsden, who became president of the college in February. "The enrollment drops were across each area of the college and shortfalls were in both recruitment of new students and retention of existing students. As an institution that is so heavily dependent on tuition revenue, cuts have to be made. After exhausting all other options, some faculty contracts will be eliminated from this fiscal year in order to balance the budget."

The main entrance to Midway College, in early spring
College trustees gave Marsden authority to terminate some faculty contracts and voted to suspend the employee retirement match for the remainder of the academic year. A news release from the college noted that all employees got a 5 percent raise in January. "Although a difficult decision to make, we felt that suspending the retirement match would be an equitable measure and less impactful to our employees," said Donna Moore, chair of the Board of Trustees.

Marsden said the college must have a balanced budget as it seeks re-accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2015. "Our enrollment management team is working to continue recruiting students for this academic year and is putting more effective recruitment plans in place for the coming years," he said. "In addition our Academic Affairs Office is working to address the issue of retention and student services."

The release said the college administration "is focused on moving the institution forward by implementing 'best practices' across campus in all areas; refocusing efforts on the Women's College experience; and working to ensure a student-focused approach to the institution. Work is also underway for finalizing a new strategic plan for the institution to establish both short- and long-term goals for the institution."

In an email to the Midway Messenger, college spokeswoman Ellen Gregory attributed the enrollment decline to increased competition for all types of students, "a need to be more strategic in our recruitment efforts to find best academic and financial fit" lack of registration deadlines and other poor practices, "and not being as competitive with scholarships and financial aid as our competitors (Women's College students)."

The issue of retaining students is complex, Gregory said, "but the biggest factor identified is the need for better and more structured advising from our faculty. Lastly, not related to enrollment but impacting our budget, is the lack of a fundraising plan or structure for the past few years."